The high school football season continues as league races begin to take shape for most area squads. Here is a look at Week 6 matchups for Central and North:
The high school football season continues as league races begin to take shape for most area squads. Here is a look at Week 6 matchups for Central and North:Pickerington Central (2-2, 2-0) at Gahanna (4-1, 2-0)
Pickerington Central travels to Gahanna on Friday, Sept. 30, for an OCC-Ohio Division game, looking for its sixth consecutive win against the Lions.
The last win in the series for the Lions came in 2001 (38-17).
The Tigers improved to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the league by rallying twice during the second half to beat Pickerington North 24-21 on Sept. 23.
Gahanna opened with back-to-back wins before losing to Upper Arlington 28-17 on Sept. 9. The Lions followed with convincing wins over Newark (54-3 on Sept. 16) and Lancaster (17-0 on Sept. 23).
"Gahanna is a good team," Central senior wide receiver, defensive back and kicker Jake Raymond said. "They've been playing really good football of late and, from what I've heard, they've got a quarterback who plays all over the field."
Raymond was referring to Tyler Grassman, who made a 42-yard field goal and was 13-for-21 passing for 110 yards and one touchdown against Lancaster.
Defensively, the Tigers held North to just four first-half first downs. One of the Panthers' scores came on a halfback pass and another was on a punt return.
"We're ready," Grassman said. "We've owed it to them for a long time and especially having them at our house, we're ready. We're going to prepare hard, we'll watch lots of film and we're going to come ready to play."
Central running back Billy Eakins rushed for one touchdown and caught seven passes for 92 yards and two scores against North.
Senior Roger Lewis was limited to one reception by the Panthers but was a threat with his blocking as well as with his kick- and punt-returning abilities.
Gahanna is coming off a defensive performance in which it held Lancaster to 107 yards rushing on 46 carries.
"Our expectations are that we better come focused and ready to learn some football and study our film and get ready to play," Lions coach John Snoad. "(Central does) a lot of crazy formations and such, and they're every bit as fast as we are on defense. It's going to be a game of speed and muscle, and they're strong. There is no doubt that we've got to be on our 'A' game."
Record-wise, Pickerington North and Reynoldsburg are at the same place - 4-1 overall.
But in other aspects, the Panthers and Raiders might be approaching their Friday, Sept. 30, OCC-Ohio Division meeting at Reynoldsburg differently.
North was 4-0 for the second time in the program's eight-year history, but Pickerington Central's last-minute scoring drive propelled the Tigers to a 24-21 win Sept. 23.
Reynoldsburg is coming off a 36-10 rout of winless Newark. The Raiders hadn't been 4-1 since 2001, the only season they've made the playoffs. Since then, they hadn't had a winning record at the halfway point of the regular season.
"I was yelling at them a little bit (after the Newark game and telling them not to) celebrate four wins," said Raiders coach Buddy White, whose team is 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio. "We still have a lot of work to do, especially if we want to talk about beating a team the caliber of Pickerington North. You know our kids are going to be pumped. They're going to be excited (this) weekend and I don't know whether we'll win or lose, but I guarantee we're going to come in expecting to win."
Reynoldsburg has followed a balanced formula the entire season. Junior Kumar Collins rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns against Newark, and classmate Mykel Traylor-Bennett, usually a standout receiver, added another 111 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
While North fell to 0-5 against Central, it is 3-0 against Reynoldsburg (27-13 in 2008, 17-7 in 2009 and 45-14 in 2010). The Panthers' myriad standouts include running back Godwin Igwebuike, quarterback Zach Olszewski, running back Alston Robertson, wide receiver Seth Gamby and offensive lineman Pat Elflein, an Ohio State verbal commitment.
Their diversity will be unlike most teams that Reynoldsburg has faced this season, but North coach Tom Phillips feels the same way about the Raiders, whose offense is run by sophomore Jordan Aekins.
"We won't have time to recover because our league is outstanding," said Phillips, whose team is 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio. "I have no doubt that our kids will be ready for the 'Burg (this) week."